I am now told my city will be in the Tochigi Prefecture. Founded in 1958, population 36,259. So far I'm told I'll be working at only one junior high, but that's subject to change. I'll be moving into an apartment that is being vacated by a current teacher, so I won't have to pay all the move-in fees, cleaning fees, "key money," etc. My roommate, who is in Tokyo proper, is spending four times as much as I am. I'm very relieved I won't have to take out the loan the company offers. I move in on the 22nd, but classes don't start until April 7th. Other than visiting the school, getting a postal box, bank account, cell phone, and Gaijin card, I'm not sure what I'm going to be doing during that time. Perhaps the company will have busy work for me to do. It will also be a nice opportunity to explore the city.
We forgot about St. Patrick on the day itself, which greatly disappointed my fellow trainees. To make up for that, we went the day after to an izakaya - a sort of bar or pub. We took off our shoes and sat on little cushions, and I ordered yakigyoza - fried dumplings - that came sizzling on their own tiny pan. I drank something that had a slight alcoholic content but only tasted like iced green tea. I am on a mission to try everything green-tea-flavored on this entire continent.
I think I'd been a bit complacent in what I'd seen of Japan so far, because it's so nondescript between the hotel and airport and back again. But going out in the area of Narita's train station - I'm not sure if it qualifies as a downtown - was very interesting. Everything is shaped differently, the buildings aren't tall but they're very close and thin. It reminds me a bit of Europe, Venice maybe. Buildings of old-fashioned white plaster are pressed up next to corrugated metal. There are a great deal of very cute boxy cars. And kids in school uniforms - perhaps I stare a little but they stare at me as well.
Enka, by the way, is a type of folk music popular in the mid-1900s, and among older Japanese people today. This is a beautiful example, sung by the "Queen of Enka."
Visual aids: (I'll be getting a phone in a few weeks that will have a camera on it)
Tired me in the hotel's yukata:
Green tea pocky, and my pinky for reference:
My hanko, the stamp for official documents. That's my last name squished in very tiny katakana: